Ha’aretz claims that a nuclear bomb exploding in Israel is really “not that bad”
There is plenty to fisk in Peter Beinart’s Ha’aretz article criticizing Elie Wiesel for defending Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress. But for today, let’s look at only one aspect.
Last week, The New York Times and Washington Post ran an open letter by Wiesel supporting Benjamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming speech to Congress. In it, Wiesel makes two assertions, neither of which he makes any effort to prove. The first is that the United States and Iran are on the verge of “a terrible deal.” What makes the deal, which has not even been struck, “terrible?” Wiesel doesn’t say.
The second is that a nuclear Iran would likely mean “‘the annihilation and destruction’ of Israel.” This, too, requires evidence that Wiesel does not provide. After all, Benny Gantz, who just retired as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, has argued that while an Iranian nuke would be dangerous, “The Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.”
One of his predecessors in that job, Dan Halutz, has said that, “Iran poses a serious threat but not an existential one.” Earlier this month, former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy added that, “I think it is a terrible mistake to use the term ‘existential threat’ because I do not believe there is an existential threat to Israel.”
The Gantz quote was from 2012, where he argued not that Iran wouldn’t use a nuclear bomb against Israel, but that Iran wouldn’t try to build one to begin with. Since then we have seen countless times how Iran had hidden its nuclear weapons program and simultaneously has expanded its building of rockets whose only purpose is to deliver such a bomb, so his “rational” statement has been overtaken by facts.
Let’s look at exactly what Ephraim Halevy said:
EH:I have always said that it is bad thing to use the terms ‘Holocaust’ and ‘existential threat’…
EH: Because we are not in a Holocaust situation. Then, six million Jews were herded into compounds and exterminated. And this can never happen again, certainly not in Israel. We have a very effective defence system. If you say there is a danger of a Holocaust it’s like saying the IDF is of no consequence. The IDF is here not only to prevent a Holocaust but to prevent an atmosphere of fear that we can ever be on the verge of a Holocaust. That’s exactly why we build up our defence and our intelligence community. Both serve the purpose of negating the idea of a future Holocaust. There cannot be another Holocaust.
Also, I think it is a terrible mistake to use the term ‘existential threat’ because I do not believe there is an existential threat to Israel. I think the Iranians can cause us a lot of damage, if they succeed in one way or another to launch a nuclear device which will actually hit the ground here in Israel. But this in itself would not bring the State of Israel to an end. I also think that it is a terrible mistake to tell your enemy – in this case, the Iranians – ‘you are an existential threat to Israel, we the Israelis believe that you have the power to destroy us.’ It’s almost inviting them to do so, because they will say, ‘If the Israelis themselves believe that they are vulnerable and can be destroyed then that is sufficient basis to go and do it. Don’t you think so?’
Halevy is saying two things: that a nuclear bomb that actually hits Israel would not destroy Israel completely, and that using the term “existential threat” is a bad strategy because it might encourage Iran (that “rational actor” as Beinart claims) to nuke Israel.
Elie Wiesel may be engaging in a little hyperbole in saying that a bomb that would kill, say, a half million people or so will annihilate Israel. But he is talking from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor who wants to do everything in his power to stop the incineration of hundreds of thousands of his people and the slow radiation death of many more. That is a supremely moral position.
Beinart, on the other hand, hates the current elected Israeli government so much that he is willing to take the position that the murder of hundreds of thousands of Israelis is really not that big a deal just to criticize a human rights icon for daring to speak out forcefully in favor of Bibi’s defending the lives of his people.
How sick is that?
Beinart shows here that – like other Ha’aretz writers – his Bibi Derangement Syndrome makes him sound less rational than Iran’s leaders. The hate for Netanyahu has become so absurd that the most mainstream of all possible Zionist positions – never allow another Holocaust, encourage Aliyah, defend Israel’s security – have become the target of attack simply because Bibi advocates them. What little intellectual honesty the Haaretz crowd ever had has been replaced with rabid hate.
And Western liberals still believe that it represents a mainstream Israeli viewpoint.